A FAMILY spent a terrifying 24 hours trapped in a Florida airport as a killer hurricane swept by.
Susan and Scott Thompson were at the end of a dream holiday in the sunshine state when Hurricane Charley struck.
They were among hundreds of tourists trapped inside Stanford Airport when the hurricane, which killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes, hit the state.
The couple, of Foxhill Terrace, Oswaldtwistle, had spent two weeks in Kissimee with their two children Jack, three-and-a-half, and Amy, 19 months, plus Susan's dad Roy Britcliffe, 61.
Just as they were about to return home, they saw the full force of the hurricane as it came inland, the tail end hitting the airport.
Gale force winds began sweeping across the area, grounding all air traffic.
Scott, a process operator, told the Observer: "The holiday had gone really well and we had been to all the theme parks.
"On the last night, someone told me there was a storm coming, but none of the reps said anything. We checked out and went to the airport as normal.
"But, as we were watching a plane taking off, a giant black cloud came over and everything went dark."
He went on: "The storm knocked the power off and we were told to stay indoors and away from the windows in case any of them smashed. The wind was really loud. It was travelling up to 135mph.
"Everything went into lock-down. All the shops closed and all the lights went off. People were using ligh-ters and their mobile phone screens to see."
Susan added: "The lightning lit up the clouds, which were purple, grey and black. The palm trees were like rubber and they bent right over. It looked like they were going to snap."
Around 900 people were forced to wait indoors until the storm had passed.
Scott added: "People were sitting around and lying on the floor. We had checked our bags in, but luckily we had some biscuits and juice in our hand luggage for the children.''
Susan added: "There was no air-conditioning and the heat was stifling. I took the children to the toilet and splashed cold water on them to cool down."
Eventually, flights were resumed and - more than a day after first checking in at the airport - the couple jetted home.
Scott recalled: "After the hurricane had passed, we looked out and saw a viewing platform we had been on earlier. It was almost wrecked.
"The aftermath was incre-dible. One guy rang his mum and asked how his house had fared. He was told he didn't have one any more.''
Housewife Susan concluded: "It was an absolute nightmare, we were so relieved to get out of there. We kept wondering the whole time if we would ever get home. The kids slept all the way back."